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Rethinking Reich$
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Sumanth Gopinath and Pwyll ap Siôn

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190605285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190605285.001.0001

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Sketching a New Tonality

Sketching a New Tonality

A Preliminary Assessment of Steve Reich’s Sketches for Music for 18 Musicians in Telling the Story of This Work’s Approach to Tonality

(p.191) 9 Sketching a New Tonality
Rethinking Reich

Keith Potter

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines some of the evidence to be found in the composer Steve Reich’s sketchbooks concerning how he conceived the tonal and harmonic organization of Music for 18 Musicians (1976) and discusses how such evidence might affect our understanding of the “diatonicism” behind Reich’s approach of the mid-1970s. By focusing, in particular, on some of the ways in which chord progressions were planned and realized, a more nuanced view is attempted of Reich’s own assertion that “harmonic movement plays a more important role here than in any of my earlier pieces.” This chapter also offers some assessment of the potential value of these sketches to the music analyst seeking a methodology to interrogate what Tom Johnson once called the “new tonality.”

Keywords:   Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians, sketch study, diatonicism, modality, functional tonality, harmonic motion, chord progressions, bass lines, pulsing and oscillating chords

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